Yesterday I came across vitriol spewed on social media toward strangers by an acquaintance. (We’ll stick to acquaintance for all intents and purposes). It disgusted me. It made me question how someone who grew up with the same background as me could think so differently and have such misconstrued thoughts they believed were built on facts. Here are my facts. Here are my beliefs. It’s hard for me to be silent when I feel so strongly.
I fully understand how videos can be edited, how they can have selected start and stop points, how they can come from different angles. I have a degree in broadcast journalism. I get it. I fully understand how news stories are biased, how journalism is politicized and how statements can be skewed as facts. I nearly completed an advanced degree in public relations. I get it.
The treatment of blacks in the United States has become a politicized issue, but it is a human issue. It is not red and blue; it is black and white. If you aren’t afraid of being assaulted when pulled over for a minor traffic issue, or mistaken for a criminal when out for a run, or apprehended strictly for the color of your skin, do not judge the feelings of those that do (here’s looking at you, privileged white people!) Racial inequality and systemic racism are real. If you don’t believe it, look around you. Read up on this country’s history. Not the history you learned in cookie-cutter WASP grade schools, but the true history told by the people who lived it.
Did Anthony Diaz deserve to die for hitting a car with a football and resisting arrest? Did Amadou Diiallo deserve to get shot at 41 times for being mistaken for a rapist and running to his apartment door, reaching for his wallet while in the vestibule? Did Abner Louima deserve to be beaten and sodomized for interfering in a fight? Did Sean Bell deserve to be shot to death after 50 rounds were fired for driving away from an undercover cop? Did Oscar Grant deserve to be held to the ground and shot in the back for being involved in a fight and resisting arrest? Did Walter Scott deserve to be shot and killed for having a break light out and running away from an officer after a physical altercation? Did Laquan MacDonald deserve to be shot 16 times for not dropping a knife, while walking away from officers, and after dropping to the ground after the first shot? Did Terence Crutcher deserve to be shot and killed for his car breaking down and reaching into the vehicle, where there was no weapon?
How many more names could I mention? Far, far too many more. Stories we’re all familiar with. I wonder what it takes for a person’s first instinct to be to draw a gun and fire to kill. Not to stop or to injure, but to kill. I am a hunter. I understand very well the different placement of a kill shot and a shot to injure. All police officers should as well. And they should have to go through more rigorous training. If they have the ability to hold someone’s life in their hands, they need to be ready for that circumstance. Doctors have to. Pilots have to. Teachers even have to. Police officers should have to go through training and education that is thorough enough that if they are faced with a difficult situation, their first instinct is not to pull a trigger because they are fearful. Unless someone is firing at them, an officer should never fire their weapon. Unless you are absolutely certain your life is at stake, how dare someone fire to take someone else’s life? And 16 shots? 41 shots? That one I need explained because I will never understand.
I whole-heartedly support the men and women who put on the badge every day and head to work to serve and protect us. It is a dangerous job. One I don’t think I would ever want to do. However, they made the conscious choice to enter that occupation. They joined the force knowing their life could be in peril. Their bravery every day is applauded. But they do not have the right to take a life. Just as no one should fire at them, they should also not fire at another human being. If a criminal gets away because the police can’t apprehend him, fine. There’ll be another chance to catch the person. Criminals are dumb. But that criminal does not deserve to die for all the petty theft, or because they look suspicious or because they reached for some unknown object. And no one deserves to be brutalized because of the color of their skin.
My great-grandparents grew up in the time of Jim Crow. My parents grew up in the time of desegregation. I grew up in the time of Rodney King. Today’s children are growing up in the time of Black Lives Matter. What do we need to do make sure the next generation doesn’t go through their own version of this? How do I assure the 18 to 22 year-old students I spoke to this week that they matter? How can I assure my friends that their beautiful three-year-olds and baby-to-be won’t have to go through this mistreatment?
We judge people based on their appearances. We make instant assumptions based on what others look like. Sadly, it’s human nature. But you know what’s also an innate human trait? And perhaps the strongest of all? LOVE. Let’s strip away our differences and recognize that at our core we are all human. Black, white, red, yellow, purple, green, it doesn’t matter. 160 IQ or 61, it doesn’t matter. Work in a plush corner office or unemployed using drugs to cope, it doesn’t matter. Has never even uttered a swear word or has a long past of wrongdoing, it doesn’t matter. People don’t deserve to die. It is not our role as humans to take another life. It is not natural, it is not right, it is not just.
I only wish we all could understand this. I’m at a loss of what to do. So, I write because it’s my therapy, and I pray because I believe in a higher power. And most of all, I love because I am human.
We've all become at-home chefs during quarantine, right?! That's one thing I have enjoyed out of the crummy circumstances the coronavirus pandemic has put us in; I've been cooking and baking much more because I'm home and not traveling. The. pandemic hit right around my birthday. Actually, my birthday was a 10-ish hour work day on a bus, at a ball field and on a bus, and then it hit. So, pretty horrible birthday week. Once everything was shut down, I wanted to treat myself with a birthday treat, so I made a confetti custard pie, stuck a candle in it and enjoyed a tiny bit of birthday fun.
For dinners, I tried two recipes from Half Baked Harvest that I am obsessed with! The first was 20 Minute Orzo Carbonara with Crispy Prosciutto and Burrata. This truly only takes about 20 minutes and it's amazingly good. If I ever get dining room chairs and have folks over for dinner, this is absolutely what I'm making. I've never had prosciutto like this, and honestly, I like it more than bacon! So delicious, so easy. And it was great for me because I can make a bit and heat it up for a day or two.
The other Half Baked Harvest dinner recipe that has become my favorite is Crockpot Carne Asada Tacos. I did not make the sauce and did not use steak. I rarely buy beef. I usually always eat venison because it's free, lean and delicious. So, for this recipe I replaced the steak with a venison roast. I usually have small roasts that are perfect size for me and those worked perfect. It was from my deer I got this past Thanksgiving, and there's just something about enjoying your own game! Usually I can't get venison to hold flavor too well, but this is easily the best venison I have ever had. I also modified the recipe by putting this on nachos and adding some homemade guacamole. I plan on making it again this weekend as tacos with some feta cheese.
I did eat beef a little bit when I picked up some steak and paired it with sweet potatoes, HBH's 5 Ingredient Beer Bread, salad and some red wine. What a perfect meal.
I've been baking, too. When the quarantine first started, I baked funfetti cupcakes with custard filling and chocolate frosting and delivered them around to co-workers as a pick-me-up. I had cute little treat boxes and everything. That was my little way to bring some joy during a very stressful, lonely time. I think everyone was very appreciative and liked the moment I was there to see a familiar face and have a quick chat. At Easter I also made cupcakes, almond with dark chocolate ganache filling and raspberry buttercream. I didn't have my piping tools, so the frosting wasn't the prettiest, but they still tasted great! For my friend's birthday, we wanted to get together and picnic at a local park. Everyone brought snacks, chairs, and we just relaxed and had a very nice, low-key celebration. For that, I let the birthday girl pick her dessert and it was just what I wanted to make! I baked a vanilla layer cake with a mixed berry compote and lemon buttercream. Oh. My. Goodness. Was that the perfect summer cake or what?! I forgot to restock my piping bags, so couldn't coat the whole cake, hence the "naked" look. It was light and refreshing. I will definitely make that one again down the road. And I loved the simple decoration of frosted berries on top.
My favorite type of cookies are French macarons, which can be tough to make. The first time I made them they came out okay, but the second time was not so good. I had some cream cheese buttercream left over from a red velvet layer cake that I made for a friend, so I needed something to use it up. Macaron filling was perfect. I made chocolate macarons with the cream cheese buttercream and they came out great! The flavor and texture was amazing. Some tops weren't as smooth as they should be, but I was very happy with my accomplishment!
I had another friend who was planning on a birthday parade for her cutest-ever twins three-year-olds, and she wanted an easy treat to hand out to everyone who came. I gladly offered to help and she came up with the idea of Rice Krispie treats in the shape of 3's dipped in rainbow sprinkles. Easy! Rice Krispie treats are the quickest, easiest thing to make, so I had a lot of fun creating these and sharing. I know she was so appreciative and everyone enjoyed them and thought it was a cute idea. It was really, really hot the day of the party, so these treats were ideal. I'm always willing and glad to bake treats when occasions arise!
"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." --Anatole France